Clamour for justice rises for late Patrick Naagbanton

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By Gladys Nweke

Demand for justice for the late activist, Patrick Naagbanton, rose in Port Harcourt last week when the taxi driver who knocked him down was brought to court.

The call came also from the family, some non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and an international journalism body.

Speaking after the adjournment of the case to November 24th 2019 at Rumuodomanya magistrate court , the lawyer to the family of the deceased, Ayodele Salami, said what his members want is due process since the court granted the driver bail.

The bail was for one million Naira and a surety that resides within the court area in which the court approved is a bailable offence.

The lawyer also emphasized that the charges and traffic offence was based on the Rivers State traffic law which is basically on reckless driving which the driver pleaded guilty that the law ascribed.

In his part, the defence counsel to Njoku Francis, (driver), Barr Ewu Bernard Ifeanyi, noted that the bail is okay, because the court has the jurisdiction to grant bail.

He noted that the only situation where the court cannot grant bail is capital offence.

…Death a global loss – ERA/FoEN

Meanwhile, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has expressed shock at the death of human rights activist – Patrick Naagbanton , describing his demise as a loss to the Niger Delta, the nation and the global human rights community. He was a member of ERA/FoEN  Advisory Board.

Patrick was hit by a vehicle close to his residence in Port Harcourt. He was in comma for about a week before succumbing to the cold hands of death on Saturday, September 21.

In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN said that members of staff and friends of the late activist are yet to come to terms with his demise and are still in utter shock.

Chair, Board of ERA/FoEN, Nnimmo Bassey said:

“Patrick Naagbanton was a model of untiring defense of the oppressed and the cause of the environment, the cause for which he was many indignities and harassment, especially in the dark days of military autocracy.  As a writer he was the voice of the voiceless and a strong defender of freedom of speech. He was an epitome of non-violent activism and a crusader for justice and the rule of law. Nigeria has lost an irreplaceable gem”

Bassey noted that Nigerians, and particularly the human rights community, will never forget the late activists’ untiring campaign for justice for Ogoni people for which he was molested, beaten, arrested and detained by the military.

“For us at ERA/FoEN, his place in the board will be hard to fill. We extend our condolences to Patrick’s immediate family and pray that the good Lord will strengthen them at this time of utter grief. As the nation mourns, the government and the people of this country should reflect and interrogate those issues that for which he stood and ensure that we all enjoy our full rights as citizens ,  ,” Bassey added.

Patrick had  worked with ERA/FoEN until 2005 when he founded Centre for the Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD), which conducts research, advocacy and campaigning work in support of communities in the Niger Delta.

In 2012, he stepped down as co-ordinator of CEHRD but continued to investigate human rights abuses across the Niger Delta and  the country at large. Patrick also wrote for newspapers and his  published     books include Fury of the Fisherwoman and The Last Militant.

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